James’ News & Progress – 29 May 2009

Following a relaxing weekend, it was back to business on Monday with the physiotherapists pressuring me into finalising my manual wheelchair script. So it was a question of which colour, what size rims, which wheels, carbon fibre or titanium frame, choice of backrest fabric and the list goes on. Given I settled on a toxic green carbon fibre frame, I can guarantee that what I lack in speed I will make up for in appearance.

On the medical side, I was required to head back to Royal North Shore Hospital this week to discuss the pros and cons of a baclafen pump. This device, about the size of a hockey puck, is inserted under the skin just below ones ribs and is used to continuously inject baclafen (a well known anti-spasm drug) directly into the spinal cord to provide strong relief to involuntary spasticity. Following my appointment I will be testing this product in coming weeks and if successful will proceed with the operation. I am not going to lie to you, given the size of pump and its semi permanent nature, this is not a decision I will be taking lightly. However given the benefits, it needs to be strongly considered.

As some of you will know one of my many passions is the great game of golf. As such I was delighted when Kevin from Bankstown Golf Course arrived with his adapted golf cart on Tuesday to demonstrate how some recovering quadriplegics and paraplegics are starting to make their comebacks to the sport. Although my hand function is a major limiting factor at the moment it was great to see some of these guys in action given their varying levels of disability. In the meantime I guess I will have to be satisfied with working on my short game with a club strapped to my good right arm.

As previously mentioned transferring is a key skill for all recovering spinal cord patients. On Friday last I was lucky enough to have my first session of car transferring with my trusty physio Holly and enthusiastic occupational therapist Damien. As Dad appeared with Mum’s family wagon and Martin with his poo brown commodore station wagon aptly named ‘the nuggét’ it was clear, that despite its inferior appearance and advanced tenure on the road, that the latter would be the transportation car of choice. This was confirmed following the transfers and a liberating 15 minute journey was enjoyed in the front passenger seat with a trusty chauffeur at the wheel. I cannot tell you how amazing it was being in the front passenger seat for the first time in just under 7 months.

You can imagine the scene in coming weeks when Martin and I are seen folding up my toxic green manual chair into his poo brown sedan.